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Open Thread and Contest: 48

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Regular Season Game 48
Spurs (32-16) at Wizards (28-19)
Verizon Center
7 PM
CSN

Previous Results: Spurs 93, Wizards 80.

Last year, one of the Wizards' signature wins was a 110-95 early-season victory in the phonebooth over the defending champion Spurs.  Gilbert Arenas went off in that game, scoring 43 points and abusing whoever guarded him.  Tonight, the Wizards look for a repeat.

San Antonio was my preseason pick to win it all, and while they haven't been as incredible as Phoenix or Dallas, they're still right there.  Playoff experience is overrated, but I guarantee that nobody will want to see this team.  The Suns in particular should work as hard as possible to secure a #1 seed, because San Antonio has the ability to give them fits.  There's a lot of squabbing about the Spurs' supposed lack of athleticism, but I personally wouldn't read too much into it.  

A far bigger problem for them has been the lack of consistency up front next to Tim Duncan.  The Spurs' whole philosophy is to play with Duncan and another big.  This allows the perimeter players to play tight man defense, because if they are beat off the dribble, the two big guys make it tough to score.  But this whole philosophy doesn't work if Duncan plays center, which is why Dallas is a particularly bad matchup.  The perimeter defenders now get exposed for playing so tight, because there's only one guy who can cover for them.

Therefore, tonight is one time where playing a small lineup with Jarvis Hayes at power forward can be tremendously effective.  San Antonio is going to be forced to match up with the Wizards, and that'll open up more lanes for Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.  I wouldn't start with it, because that kind of defeats the whole purpose, but I think it should be utalized a lot.  If you try to play traditionally against the Spurs without the right personnel, they'll kill you.  That was Washington's mistake in the first matchup.

Spurs blogs: Pounding the Rock, Spurs Dynasty.

Your lines for tonight:

Spurs at Wizards: Spurs by 3.5.
Over/Under on Big 2: 50.3 points.

This is an open game thread, so all jokes involving Manu Ginobili's flopping go here.